We all have fears, some of them well hidden away so they do not bother us, some of them deleted, some of them just there in a second….
The first time I discovered I was afraid of bears was as we visited Mark and Iris in America last year. I was there with Brian and we were talking with Iris as she mentioned she had to honk for a little bear as she drove up to their house. ‘So cute!’ she said.
I did not share her opinion….the way I always saw bears only included the cute little toys people give children. My childish belief comes from the impression bears are cute, fluffy, soft and petable…I simply LOVED bears as a kid and even as an adult I thought of them with according yells as: Ahhhhh…….and Ohhhhh….
This perception of The Bear was rudely ruined as I realized bears were really OUT THERE…SOMEWHERE… NEARBY….I did not know what frightened me the most, the fact bears were really real or the fact I did not know where they were….
Isn’t that what fears are all about? Feeling scared of SOMETHING OUT THERE?
I heard about people who got attacked, people who got eaten and people who missed arms or legs because of an encounter with a BEAR….
And all of a sudden I found myself unable to sleep…There I was, in bed next to the love of my life, who was already snoring like a teddy bear. And me? I sat straight up, simply being terrified….
I knew the doors would be no problem to a bear and I started to get lost in all kind of mixed up imaginary “What If questions”:
‘What if the bear smells the garbage and want to get a fast meal? (To them the garbage is like McDonalds to us!’)
‘What if they make their way into the house and look around for food?’
‘What if they get disturbed or annoyed and attack us in our sleep to EAT US??’”
As I talked about it with Brian the next day, he had to laugh immensely and told me bears are more afraid of humans than the other way around. I decided to find out more on the internet. This is what I found:
“Whenever you encounter a bear, just make a lot of noise! Make yourself bigger and get your arms up in the sky and shout, yell! This will frighten a bear and he will run away. When a bear makes himself bigger by standing up, do not move and do not look into his eyes. Move very slowly backwards and try to escape without sudden movements. Whatever your first emotion tells you, do NOT RUN!!! The bear will think you are his meal…”
Can’t say this was really comforting me in a huge way….
Now we live in a natural environment here in America, I heard people talk about bears and that they were even seen in our neighborhood…WOW! That was a SHOCKER! And there was my FEAR again! And this time it was even more huge than ever!
I did not feel safe anymore, turned on the television and: saw the Montana news…. First thing I hear and see: A dude had been attacked by a bear…there was a BEAR ALERT!…OH….MY….GOD!!!….
Though my brain told me not to worry because I could also choose to trust on my inner voice security system, I got scared to death. This was the only time ever I wished I was in Holland again…
The days that followed I tried to act as if I was not scared at all. But as soon as Brian drove away to work I closed the door to the deck and locked the front door. Which I unlocked rapidly as soon as I heard the sound of the car driving up our path. I felt ashamed and did not want to show my fear. I felt like a little child who did not want to admit she felt frightened and I most certainly did not want to be laughed at. Which was a weird thought coming from old beliefs, Brian and I never judge each other. But at that time I did not want him to know, not even in a joke. I asked myself why?
Now there was a first class eye opener! But did I open myself up to that?
Of course I did!
There was nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to feel ashamed of at all! I was the one who was doing this to me! It had NOTHING to do with Brian OR the Bear….But how to deal with my Bear O’Fobia?
I asked myself WHAT exactly I felt afraid of. And if that fear was a realistic fear, or not. I decided it was an exaggerated fear. I MADE it BIGGER than it was. And because of that fear I did not allow myself to sit on the porch in the sun. I realized I had been creating an image that justified my fear of bears. But as I thought about it more, I also realized I WANTED to think about Bears in this way because I BELIEVED this would PROTECT me! Each fear you make up has a source, but is it defendable? Does it stand a realistic and therefore critical thought? (There is a wonderful program about dissecting the roots of fear and then dismantling it taught at The Option Institute, called, appropriately: Fearless! — http://www.option.org/programs:fearless,1 )
I am still in an alert stage when I am on the porch, enjoying the sun, but nowadays more to see some deer that graze in the backyard. I ENJOY sitting there in the sun, even do not think about a bear…I changed my beliefs about bears…I changed the way I looked at bears….How I did it? I simply decided to choose another belief, one that allows me to enjoy my life more. Does this mean I never will fear again? I do not know the answer on that one, what will my reaction be when I really will encounter a bear? Will I be frozen? Will I be able to stay calm? Will I talk to the bear and move gently in the direction of the door? Or will I just stay where I am, praying while keeping my eyes closed, making myself unvisible? It will all be answered on the moment that really happens, but that moment is not now…so why worry about something that might never happen?
I chose to be curious about bears instead. Because I wanted to know more about my “fuzzy friends” I watched documentaries about them. I started to understand bears only want to eat and that does not necessarily include me…! Bears do not attack you when you unless there is a reason to do so.
I watched a television show and saw bears being afraid of people! They ran for life by seeing a human!…I watched a documentary about a so called bear whisperer, I will include the link here: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/focus-earth/steve-searles-bear-whisperer.html Very interesting! A man called Steve Searles got into bears in a totally different way than he was used to before. This man who first hunted them down, now does everything to save them… He talks to bears and knows them all. They know him all.
I looked at his name and thought: WOW! I would rather call him Steve Fearless….
This man teaches bears who get too close to the city what is allowed and what is not. In order to do that he makes sounds, yells, talks, or scares them away with rubber bullets etc. and is successful at it. There has not been a single bear shot there in many years because of Steve. Everybody knowes Steve Searles and people call him as soon as a bear has been seen in their neighborhoood. He is a very busy dude, the bears are his “kids” and he teaches them how to behave good…isn’t that great?
I realized fear is something that starts with something we see, experience or hear about. It mostly starts small. We create it into something far way bigger than it actually is. As if we want to justify our self created beliefs about the danger in it. So we hold on to the right of feeling afraid. We even tell ourselves our fear is a good thing, there to protect us! But is it true?
How about your deepest fears? Did you CREATE them to serve you at first? Did you make them bigger? Did your fears take control over you? Or are you still the director of it?
Are your fears a true reflection in the mirror you look in…And is that the mirror of reality? Or is it the mirror of YOUR reality? A reality that stands on believes YOU created?
Did you too create a fear that has expended itself? Like I did? And what is the fear that frightens you the most?
Thinking back at the documentary, I most certainly got my insights out of that show. I respect the way Steve is quiet and calm, he has a beautiful deep voice that feels comforting even to me…He behaves in a friendly and teaching way, it’s almost as if he is the father of the kids and friends, called bears…He tells them to back off when necessary, he comforts them and sits with them when he feels that is the right thing to do. This man talks bear language…It was such a good experience to see how bears react, live, act in real life. It has most definitely changed my personal view on bears. I can look at a bear now and see the other side of them: the joyful playing side, the cute and adorable side in bears, the protective side they show towards their cubs. Bears do not have the want to attack people, they want to live their lives in peace in the woods.
But we humans first feed them because that’s so adorable and those little bears are so cute…. However, when they come back (bears have a good memory) we call them dangerous and want them to be destroyed. The bear does not understand it when he first gets unexpected food so easily and then is chasen away. We can leave our garbage outside, but when bears are looking for food, garbage can be an easy meal to them. Does the bear know he is not allowed to do that? Search our garbage? He even does not know what garbage is! I know I do not leave MY garbage outside when I know bears want to eat because the winter is coming soon. Bears feel the need to eat for months…
In the documentary I saw bears under porches sleeping there during winter. Close to people who did not even know they were there. Bears who silently got back to the mountains, to live their lives the way bears do.
I want to leave a last question with you:
Do you believe fears are there to protect you? And if not, why do you create them?